Hunting, birdwatching boosts conservation action, study finds

 

Hunting, birdwatching boosts conservation action, study finds

Posted: 10 Mar 2015 04:38 AM PDT

What inspires people to support conservation? A new study provides one simple answer: bird watching and hunting. The contributions of individuals who identified as both bird watchers and hunters were evident: on average, this group was about eight times more likely than non-recreationists to engage in conservation.…This survey of conservation activity among rural landowners in Upstate New York considered a range of possible predictors such as gender, age, education, political ideology, and beliefs about the environment. All other factors being equal, bird watchers are about five times as likely, and hunters about four times as likely, as non-recreationists to engage in wildlife and habitat conservation. Both bird watchers and hunters were more likely than non-recreationists to enhance land for wildlife, donate to conservation organizations, and advocate for wildlife-all actions that significantly impact conservation success. The contributions of individuals who identified as both bird watchers and hunters were even more pronounced. On average, this group was about eight times more likely than non-recreationists to engage in conservation. ….”Managers often discuss direct and indirect links between wildlife recreation and conservation,” said study co-author Dr. Lincoln Larson, now at Clemson University. “Our findings not only validate this connection, but reveal the unexpected strength of the conservation-recreation relationship.”

The study, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, speaks to wildlife agency managers. Findings could assuage concerns about diminishing support for conservation in the United States and its historic ties (both socially and economically) to hunting, an activity that has been declining for decades. “Our results provide hope for wildlife agencies, organizations, and citizens concerned about conservation,” offers study co-author Dr. Ashley Dayer of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Bird watchers, a group not traditionally thought of as a constituency by many wildlife management agencies, have real potential to be conservation supporters, if appropriate mechanisms for them to contribute are available.”…

 

Caren Cooper, Lincoln Larson, Ashley Dayer, Richard Stedman, Daniel Decker. Are wildlife recreationists conservationists? Linking hunting, birdwatching, and pro-environmental behavior. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.855

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